Photography Tutorial – Day four

You have officially survived three days without flash use

Your kids are officially tired of your probing lens in their faces…

You never knew the surface of a leaf was so intricate…

Way to go, lovelies!

Let’s delve into a couple of things today…

ISO and low-light shot-taking.

Here’s hoping that ya’ll found your manuals. I touched briefly on ISO yesterday (great tutorial here).

Bottom line: Bigger numbers (400-3200) for low light. Smaller numbers when you have lots of light (200 and below).

I always shoot at 100 in the studio because I shoot with strobe lights (this is will be covered in person at Ignite the Heart 2011) If you’re interested in portrait work, strobes are a necessary tool to make your subjects “pop”. The ability to shape and sculpt light separates the men from the boys, so to speak, in the portrait industry. I will be covering some of this in our fab retreat (date to be announced) this year. Email me if you want the info to be emailed to you first.

When outside in cloud cover, I like ISO 200. In the NW when the slop arrives (like right now, darn it), our afternoons are a bit dark and I shoot at 400. This shoot, “Alice”, (my fave of the year) is shot in the forest at my house with lots of tree cover and a waning sun behind them, so I busted out the strobes with a generator and available light….very interesting results.  

(the rest of the “Alice” images are here)

These images (same family, funny enough 😉   ) were shot with cloud cover at 320 ISO using a reflector…we’ll go into that next.

These have a vintage “wash” over them made in Photoshop (stay tuned for tomorrow!). Rest of the pink images are here.

Okay, so this little guy, Mr. Reflective Disc, is a friend too…he hangs out in the back of my car getting dog hair and greasy french fry juice on him….because you never know when you might want to reflect light into someone’s eyes.

People need catchlights in their eyes in portraits to make them “come alive”…


otherwise they end up looking like an oppossum …

(beady little eyes…not a good look for most of us)

This reflective disc can be held to catch the light from the clouds or windows and reflect it into a person’s eyes to create such a thing.

Here’s a little trick of the trade I’ve used for years ~ if you’re in a position where holding a disc is not going to happen, WEAR A WHITE SHIRT…even something as simple as this will put a little white light in their eyes. For New Yorkers (and I used to be one for a little while), you’ll have to for-go that black-all-the-time-thing…I learned that the hard way!

For those of you shooting gear (Etsy, Barn sales, websites, etc), here’s a tip:  Get some white board (you can get large sheets at Home Depot if your gear is big) and place it just under the shade of an open garage door. You might also want to put some white board on the ground too to make it look like one big lit room. Whiteboard is also good for reflecting, so find that sun and reflect a little light back into the gear.

Do your routine (remember…camera on A, get scary close, look at what the shutter speed wants to be, put camera on M, set shutter speed/leave F-stop, FIRE!)


Nicely lit gear.

We LIKE nicely lit gear because (another little secret here) it sells better than icky-lit gearicky meaning yellowish lindoor ights or (GASP!) flash….oh, I don’t even wanna think about it.

Example…this charm image was taken in my garage with some renderings from my yard. I could’ve placed it on my kitchen counter under a hanging light…or (Say it isn’t so!!!) flashed the crap out of it, but instead, I took the 5 minutes that it takes to set up a little “studio” in my garage (didn’t want to do the 15 min. drive to the actual studio…sometimes the garage suits me just fine!) and voila…(DEETS:  320 ISO…shutter speed 125…f/4)

so, my lovelies…Light Matters…reflect it, capture it, harness it, let it speak to you.

Just look around…where is it coming from?

If you’re outside, see where the sun is at certain times of day. Ask yourself, “When is the light the most beautiful out here?”

That is when you want to shackle the kids to a tree for pictures!

If you’re inside…Ask yourself, “Which window produces the best light? Which window faces North?”

That is the window you want to be placing that chubby faced baby next to for her 6 month pictures…put up a sheet behind her if you have to!

If you’re in a barn for a sale (love my BOYS!), ask yourself…”What ISO should I choose in  this low light?

These little “camera check-ins” with yourself mean the difference between a snapshot and a good picture.

You can do it, lovelies!!! Get out there and shoot!


This entry was posted in Events for the MPG, IGNITE THE ARTIST, MPG quote and wisdom, MPG stirrings, My photography world, Photography tutorials and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Photography Tutorial – Day four

  1. Shell W. says:

    Just wanted to say a big fat THANKS! & yes I yelled that lol. Your funny approach really helps me to remember what I’m supposed to do & how. Thanks again

  2. Maria says:

    Hi Lara,
    I think I have an addiction to turning my iso up way too high……
    I am trying to break myself of that… My pictures are way too overexposed.
    I am loving your tutorial.
    Have a great day!
    Take Care,

  3. Sherri B. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. I haven’t had a chance to start but will be in the next few days. I featured your post just now on my blog and linked to you. Thanks again.

  4. kelly lish says:

    You are simply amazing my friend!

Comments are closed.